Tick tock… tick tock… tick tock. As we’ve waited all off-season for RFA Andreas Athanasiou to come to terms on a new contract with Detroit, things only seem to be getting worse.
RFA Andreas Athanasiou, who has yet to come to terms with DET on a contract, flying to Switzerland tonight, will start skating with Lugano.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 6, 2017
According to Mlive, the Wings have offered him a 2-year deal with an AAV of $1.9M as well as a 1-year deal worth $1.25M. Athanasiou is seeking a deal worth $2.5M per year. Apparently the holdup isn’t due to the salary cap, according to CBS Detroit, leaving many wondering why AA remains unsigned. Because of this, many fans have been calling for Ken Holland’s head, but – hear me out on this – Holland has handled this negotiation correctly.
The major key here is that if AA heads off to somewhere in Europe, Detroit still retains his rights. Which means, if he returns next season, he will still be an RFA with no arbitration rights meaning there is no reason to rob the bank to pay him. The main purpose of not giving first time RFA’s arbitration rights is so that the player doesn’t have leverage. If Holland were to budge and give him what he wants, any young kid (specifically Larkin and Mantha next season) will come in and demand the world.
One example I can think of is when Eric Lindros wanted to be traded out of Quebec City. The reality for Quebec was that, if they trade him after just being drafted, any new kid can just say “I don’t want to play here, trade me.” How this applies to the AA situation is that, if they see Holland doesn’t take advantage of the control he has, they can get exactly what they want.
Also, I don’t know if AA is just being stubborn or if his agent is a complete moron, but the offers they have given him are pretty fair. I’ve seen some people ask how is AA worth less then Abdelkader, Ericsson, Helm, etc. Those contracts were given to them as UFA deals, so they shouldn’t even be a comparison. Looking at AA’s case, Sam Bennett, Josh Anderson, and Connor Brown are the best comparables to him. All of these players this off-season signed new deals as first time RFA’s in the range of $1.8M and $2.1M. All of these players have put up similar scoring stats and are still unproven players in the NHL. It’s worth noting, AA has the same agent as both Sam Bennett and Josh Anderson.
Ken Holland has given AA a reasonable offer and kept the control he is suppose to have during negotiations with RFA’s without arbitration rights. He’s done everything he could possibly do and Holland would be wise to remain firm on his original offer and let AA decide for himself. At the end if the day, if this doesn’t reach a resolution this season, Detroit will still keep AA’s NHL rights, which is the most important.